UN Special Envoy Arrives in Pyongyang

People's Daily -- English

March 18, 2003

A UN high-level special envoy said on Tuesday that he would convey information to officials of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) over the current situation on the Korean Peninsula.

Maurice Strong, a special envoy of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, made the remarks at Pyongyang's Sun An International Airport upon his arrival here for a four-day visit to the DPRK, his second since January.

"The DPRK is an important member of the United Nations and I will report to the DPRK officials about the result of activities since my last visit," Strong told Xinhua.

Strong said there had been both progress and difficulties in the past two months with regard to the Korean Peninsula's situation.

"There was progress in meeting the immediate humanitarian needs (of the DPRK) and more international understanding of the need of a peaceful resolution of the issues of the country", he said.

"There is more commitment to the peaceful resolution, yet there is still real danger and risk along that way," he said. "All parties continue to say they want to have a peaceful resolution, but they are not sitting around the table to archive that yet, which is the major difficulty."

"Such a peaceful resolution can only occur when they start to talk," Strong stressed.

When asked what information he would pass on to the DPRK officials after his meeting with US officials last week, Strong said he was not a "messenger." But he added that he would convey information to the DPRK officials and friends, as the UN serves both the DPRK and the United States.

"If I can convey information useful, I'll do so, but not in the sense of messenger," Strong said.

Strong said on Sunday that the United States is promising to send 40,000 tons of food to the DPRK, as part of its commitment of 100,000 tons of food. The European Union has sent its first shipment of 39,500 tons of food to the DPRK, which helped alleviate the food shortage in the country.

The nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula has run into a stalemate, as the DPRK demands direct talks with the US, while the latter has tried to resolve it within a multilateral framework.